Who we are
Red Ladder is a radical theatre company with over 45 years of history. The company is acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading national touring companies producing new theatre, contributing to social change and global justice. Red Ladder is funded by Arts Council England and by Leeds City Council.
Founded in 1968 in London, the company has a colourful history rooted in the radical socialist theatre movement in Britain known as agitprop. Born into an era of riots, demonstrations and revolts, Red Ladder has grown up, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century, where it continues to fight, to entertain, and to agitate in as equal measures as possible.
Red Ladder exists to create theatre about and around human struggle. To do this, our work must be galvanising and stimulating; generous and life affirming ; collaborative and visionary ; fearless; of and for many people.
We seek to redefine and reclaim notions of popular, political and radical in a theatre context, and place politics and accessibility as twin and complementary facets of a people’s theatre. We use our unique history as a leadership resource for theatre and theatre-makers seeking contemporary forms which speak to the politics of the now. “When the best leaders’ work is done the people shall say ‘We did it ourselves’” Lao Tzu
Meet the team
Rod became Artistic Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company in 2006, following his role as associate director at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth. He has also ran The Hub Theatre School in Cornwall and been an actor with several companies including Kneehigh Theatre. Directing credits for Red Ladder include Where’s Vietnam?, Forgotten Things, Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection, Ugly, Sex & Docks & Rock ‘N’ Roll, Big Society! and Promised Land. Rod is both a life-long Liverpool supporter and a believer in Proudhon’s principles of anarchy – the two might be connected.
A Red Ladder employee of over 10 years, Chris is still in constant awe of the talent he has to work with at the company. Lloydy stumbled across Red Ladder after stints at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Rosehill Theatre in Cumbria, three years in the south of Spain and ten years in London at Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Shaw Theatre in Euston.
Never happier than when sitting in his parlour counting his pennies Chris occasionally emerges, blinking, into the theatrical spotlight for opening nights, launches, free lunches and end of tour thrashes.
Chris is a Leeds based writer who writes for stage, television, radio and film. His work has been produced for The Lyric Theatre, the Southwark Playhouse and BBC Radio 4 amongst various other venues and platforms. Alongside his writing he is involved as a digital marketing associate with Red Ladder Theatre and Freedom Studios maintaining their websites as well as writing copy, newsletters and mailouts.
Jenny joined Red Ladder to help us with big projects such as our Northern Social Circuit – a two year programme of touring non-theatre venues such as pubs, Rugby League sports socials and working men’s clubs. Thanks to Jenny we were successful in a bid to Arts Council England for a Strategic Touring Fund to support this important phase of our work.
Tessa Gordziejko, Creative Director Imove Arts, Executive Director Unlimited Theatre
Tessa was Cultural Olympiad Programmer for Yorkshire between 2007 and 2012, and established Imove as the region’s signature programme, comprising 32 arts projects with a budget of £3 million and an audience of around 4.5 million. In 2015 and 2016 she has performed her poetry across the north, including as part of breath[e]:LESS, a spoken word and music fusion on environmental themes.
‘I joined the RL board having known and loved the company for many years, because I’m passionately committed to theatre with a political narrative. I believe the world needs Red Ladder, and I want to help make sure it survives and thrives.”
Away from work (apart from seeing a lot of theatre) I am deeply interested in physical culture, and movement, and I love going to music gigs.’
Craig Jefferies, CEO Albion Electrical Wholesalers
Craig joined the Board in September 2016 and is joint MD of Albion Electric Stores Limited, an electrical wholesale company based in Leeds. He graduated with a degree in Accounting and Financial Analysis from Newcastle University and over his working career has worked firstly with KPMG, then The London Stock Exchange and finally with Albion Electric.
‘I’ve always been interested in the arts and one of the driving influences for moving to London after graduating was to see more theatre. I was introduced to Red Ladder through Pheonix Dance who have a storage arrangement with Albion Electric Stores Limited. I bring to the Board 30 years of financial experience along with 20 years of commercial understanding. I live with my partner in Pateley Bridge surrounded by 20 chickens, 2 Alpacas and a cat.’
Jo Westerman, LOGIK and Staff Centre Manager, University of Leeds
Jo Westerman has been manager of the University of Leeds’ LOGIK and Staff Centre for over 11 years. Prior to that she worked as a Regional Learning Organiser with Amicus the Union and was also a Research Technician with the University of Leeds’ Department of Animal Physiology. In 2010 Jo was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Martyn Potter, HR Consultant, PKF (UK)
Martyn currently runs his own Human Resource consultancy business offering advisory, coaching, training, mediation and consultancy services to a range of organisations across the Private, Public and Third Sectors. He started working in accountancy before moving into recruitment consultancy, then internal HR before become fully customer-facing.
‘I was asked to join the Red Ladder Board after carrying out a piece of internal work for the Company. I have now been a Board member for over six years and during that period I feel that I have been able to bring a questioning, yet objective perspective and help the management team to steer the Company through an exciting period of organisational change. I am a keen Derby County supporter and still try to run around the five a-side-football pitch every week (and always regret it the day after when I can’t move!).’
Ben Rothera, Freelance Producer
Ben is an independent Creative Producer & Programmer currently working with 154 Collective, Dispalce Yourself Theatre, Square Chapel, Creative Scene and the Selby Arts Festival.
Dan Bye, Independent Theatre Maker and Writer
Daniel is a theatre-maker from Middlesbrough whose award-winning performances tour nationally and internationally. His recent work includes Going Viral, How to Occupy an Oil Rig, The Price of Everything and for young audiences Error 404. He is an associate artist of ARC Stockton, who act as his producers, and a member of the Fence international network of playwrights and cultural operators. He has also worked extensively as a theatre director, mostly of new writing, and as well as being founding artistic director of Silver Tongue Theatre, he directed work for Red Ladder and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, among others.
‘I joined the Red Ladder Board simply because I’m a huge fan of the company. Their commitment to work that is politically radical and radically accessible is one I share and when Rod called I had no hesitation in saying yes. Hopefully what I bring is an understanding of the challenges, artistic and financial, facing small-scale touring theatre, as well as a knowledge of the stakeholders and shifting contexts in which we operate.’
Javaad Alipoor, Artistic Director Northern Lines and Resident Associate Director Sheffield Theatres Trust.
Javaad is a writer, director and occasional musician, who got into professional theatre making primarily through the Asian Theatre School. Following on from a background in youth and community work, he moved into his first full-time theatre job in 2012, working as Creative Projects Manager at Royal & Derngate. Setting up Northern Lines in 2013, he was able to develop his professional practice. Since then he has written and directed six shows for Northern Lines including Orgreave: An English Civil War, My Brother’s Country and his first solo show Believers Are But Brothers. In that time he has also developed freelance writing and directing practices. His first pamphlet of poems was released by Art in Unusual Pages, and he recently directed Bassett with Sheffield People’s Theatre’s Young Company. He writes about politics, social and aesthetic theory for journals, books and his blog. His latest writings are collected in Critical Muslim: Cities and Khiyana: Daesh, The Left and the Unmaking of the Syrian Revolution.
‘In my spare time I am involved in some political activism and am a founder of the Bradford Says Everyone Stays, migrant solidarity events. I practice martial arts, especially MMA when I get time. I wanted to join the Red Ladder board for two reasons. First, the history of the company, stretching right back to its root but, more personally for me, the role it played in setting up the Asian Theatre School, without which the little scene of artists of colour within which I locate myself, wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is. I also have a lot of respect and sympathy for how Rod and Tessa see the world, and its difficult to not want to support them. I hope I can bring a few things to the company. I’m more and more interested in thinking through the challenges of the 21st Century especially as the political certainties, and basic political coordinates of the post war period coops around us. I am also (touch wood!) a fairly handy fundraiser, especially from non traditional arts sources (trusts and foundations, social and heritage organisations). Finally, I hope to provoke colleagues around questions of how they can address diversity throughout the organisations work.’
Emma McDowell, Marketing and Programmer Harrogate Theatre
After studying for an MA in Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Emma embarked on a career in arts marketing in cross-arts venues such as Harrogate Theatre and Square Chapel Centre for the Arts in Halifax. Now as Associate Producer, Emma programmes the Studio Theatre space and manage Harrogate Theatre’s portfolio of associate companies. In the past she has programmed festivals for Harrogate Theatres including 2’s Company Festival and Harrogate Comedy Festival. She has also trained in market research, having worked for arts research consultancy Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, where she managed a number of research projects on behalf of arts and cultural clients. She has also worked in admin support for the Independent Theatre Council and Frantic Assembly, and on a freelance basis more recently in producing/admin support, graphic design and marketing consultancy for performing arts companies and venues. She is also applying for a research degree at PhD level at the University of Leeds from September 2017, with a particular interest in liveness of the theatre experience and the interaction between artist and audience member.
‘Having attended a number of Red Ladder’s productions over the years, I have always been an admirer of their work and their commitment to finding and telling stories of global injustice and social change. Their work represents the holy grail for many modern theatre companies; they make accessible, relevant and exciting productions that reflect and challenge modern Britain in all its diversity. The Red Ladder team has deservedly earned a strong reputation for delivering high quality art with a strong community base in Leeds and beyond, and this only looks to develop in the future – who wouldn’t want to be part of that!? Now, more than ever, touring new work in the UK is becoming increasingly difficult for companies, often with venues and audiences reluctant to take risks with their ever-decreasing leisure time. (This problem, I believe, is exacerbated by a sector-wide inability to articulate the value of the live cultural experience as a whole.) I feel that my experience working in a venue will help to explore how venues and companies may work together better in the future to bring relevant and exciting live new work like that of Red Ladder to a wider range of audiences. I hope also to bring some marketing, audience development and market research expertise to the board, and will continue to passionately advocate for Red Ladder’s work in any way I can. I play the piano, am a hoarder of musical instruments (including a didgeridoo) and I am an avid festival, gig and concert-goer and beer drinker. I also enjoy hiking, swimming, skiing and being in the outdoors – especially if I have a dog in tow.’
Red Ladder is always seeking new members who are interested in the future activity of the company, if you would like to express an interest please email: email@example.com
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